It is one of the most familiar prayers for Christians, the Lord’s Prayer. Found in both the gospels of Matthew and Luke, it has become the standard prayer for Christians. And why not? It came from Jesus. Jesus told us to pray this way. It would only make sense that we heed his call and pray his words. Like many things that we often do, it can become very routine without much thought to what we are actually saying. We can pray for each part and not really consider what we are praying for.
As part of the prayer, we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) When we stop to think about this, is this really what we want for our lives and for our world? Are we sure what we want the world to run the way of God’s will? Do we really want it to be like heaven here and now? In many ways, this is a dangerous prayer for all who find themselves comfortable in the world.
If God’s kingdom was to fully come to earth and if God’s will was fully carried out, then our lives would be drastically disturbed. God’s Kingdom would make us have to reevaluate how we live our lives. Success would no be seen in the greatest wealth, the biggest house, the largest bank account, or the nicest things, but in those who give everything away to serve others. No longer would we strive to be first in everything, but we would desire to be last. Justice, fairness, and equality would not be an aspiration but a reality. Grace would permeate every relationship leading to forgiveness and reconciliation. We would put away our weapons of war and replace them with instruments of peace. Do we really want the earth to be like heaven?
Jesus came announcing the Kingdom of God. It was a message of hope for many who had been left behind and forgotten by the world. The one’s on the outside would finally have a seat a the table or on the front row. The problem was that those and the table and on the front row did not like what it meant for them. Others would be lifted up, and they would be brought low. This Kingdom was too much for them, so they did what most do when they are threatened by such a change, they killed the messenger. They nailed this radical new king and kingdom to a cross. They liked earth just the way it was.
As the old idiom suggests, “be careful what you ask for.” Praying for God’s Kingdom to come on earth might just disrupt our lives. We might have to give up that which we cling to so tightly now. Heaven on earth might, in fact, turn our lives upside down. The way of Jesus is not the way of the world. Jesus lived against the grain, and if God’s Kingdom is realized on earth, then we could expect things to be very different.
We can become quite comfortable in our world, especially for Christians living in America. We often associate the American Dream with the Kingdom of God as though they are one and the same. The radical nature of the Lord’s Prayer, however, causes us to rethink this. God’s dream for the world is a radically different way of being and relating. The greatest in the Kingdom are not those on the top but those who in humility serve their neighbor. The Kingdom challenges our beliefs of what really matters. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” can turn everything upside down.